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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Does It Get Better?

Dinnertime with kids, that is.

It seemed for the longest time we went through a stage with Kayla when she really wouldn't eat anything for dinner. It was frustrating to take the time to prepare dinner and sit down as a family only to have Kayla push her plate away as soon as we sat down to eat. We would repeatedly ask her to at least have one bite; and sometimes after a lot of cajoling she would, but that was usually it. Every night it was the same thing, and almost every night left me feeling frustrated.

Since we moved to Maryland she has really changed a lot in that area. She eats dinner most nights and it's not as often that we have to ask her to please take a few bites of something.

But just as soon as I stopped stressing about eating dinner with Kayla, Lucas comes along. So much for an idyllic family meal time. Does that even exist when you have kids?

He is independent and refuses to let you feed him. Which for the most part is fine because it means I can eat my dinner now instead of taking bites in between feeding him.

But this 'independence' brings on a whole new set of challenges and I'm not talking about the mess that is involved.

Now he is going through the stage where you just don't know if he's going to eat from one night to the next. Or if he scarfed something up last week he'll shake his head at it the next time it's offered.

When we sit down to eat we hold our breath to see what he's going to do. If he starts eating my mom and I can just give each other a look that says, "He's eating! Ok don't look at him, don't make eye contact, and don't talk to him. Let's just ignore him and hope he keeps eating!"

But then there is the throwing! Oh the throwing. I don't think we ever had to deal with that with Kayla; or if we did it wasn't of this magnitude.

He chucks his food, bowl, cup, and spoon across the table or on the floor. He'll hold his hand over the side of the tray, look at you to see if you're watching, and as soon as you say "Luuucas!" and reach for his hand he is quick as a wink and lets that food fall. Then he grins at you as if to say you weren't quick enough.

He dumps his bowl over on his tray and then swipes his hand back and forth across the tray so the food goes flying over the edge.

Yes we tell him "No" and "food is for eating, not throwing." Yes I take his bowl away...then he throws a fit trying to reach for it on the table.

It's tiring going through the same thing every night. It's tiring not being able to enjoy a peaceful and quiet meal without dodging food or utensils, or cleaning up food.

And on the nights that Kayla is having an attitude too? Having to stop between bites and tell Kayla to sit up in her chair, or stop sliding off the chair, or pick her head up off the table...then I just want to throw in the towel and have dinner after they go to bed!

Several years ago, before we had Kayla, we were at a squadron family function. One of Joe's coworkers was a single dad with 2 kids. Dinner seemed a bit chaotic for him and something he said stuck with me after all those years, "Once you become a parent you'll never eat your dinner warm again." Ha! I'm finding that to be pretty darn true!

So tell me, does dinner with kids ever get better?


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35 comments:

Stephanie said...

I can't even tell you how we're going through the same thing with our little foster baby. She's to the point, now, that she doesn't want to eat much, so she'll take 2 or 3 bites, then she'll say, "all done". Um now, we're not done, then she starts screaming as if you just tried to rip her arm off. To which we ignor. Then she spits all her food out and refuses to eat anymore. If you try to feed her, she'll put it in her mouth, then she'll start gagging, trying to make herself throw up. NOT COOL. So now, it's either she eats at dinner time, or else she doesn't get anything else for the rest of the evening.

She does know, however, that if she throws her food, or drops it off the side, she's DONE and she gets a spankin. She knows it's a no no and doesn't try, 99% of the time.

She will do better if we cut up her food and let her eat it herself, however, I don't think as much gets down her, then when we try to feed her and she actually eats, but hey, at least it's better than 2 bites then gagging.

Windi said...

Oh I feel your pain! I have a 4 year old and a 1 year old and meal time is just the worst! I'm always asking myself the very same thing, does it get better?? Does it? And yet we love them so darn much don't we!! ;)

Lacey said...

I don't know if it gets better, but it gets different. My boys are so picky that we'll sit down to dinner and they'll be like, I don't like that. I'm not a restaraunt, eat it or go hungry.
Fortunatly I never had the food throwers, so I don't have any great advice, sorry :(

Stacy said...

It gets better, at least I have found that it has. I have a 7 year old son and a 3 year old daughter. We can sit at the table and enjoy a meal together. Some nights they eat well, some nights they don't. It's up to them and I don't stress them not eating - they'll eat when they are hungry.

My son still won't do veggies and the only thing he will eat with his food mixed is spaghetti (no casseroles), but I always try to have something that he will eat.

Lucas is a little young to reason with, but as he grows it does get easier and you will eat a warm dinner!

rylie's mom said...

My girls are all such picky eaters! Lucas sounds exactly like my CESALIE!!!! I'm still waiting for it to get easier.

Bailey's Leaf said...

My K- has always been a fairly decent eater and not a thrower. However, I do know that they make bowls with suction cups on them. Perhaps that would help?

Maybe if you have him help you scoop food out for him, then he'll feel like he has a choice in his food (though he doesn't, but he's too young to know this) and maybe that would help.

K- doesn't like green beans. Last night, I made them and I always have her eat the same number of beans as her age. She balked, tried to hide them behind her bowl, but I informed her that the 5 beans weren't going to kill her. She put some salt on them and ate 'em right up. Who knew?

Good luck!

Katie said...

NO. It doesn't get better...sorry! Just kidding, actually. But seriously? The phases come and go, but there always seems to be some other behavior that replaces them. Right now, my five year old sticks her fingers in her milk. But at least she is trying more foods..whew! It had been a nightmare for a long time. I can handle the fingers.

Julie said...

My 8 year old is extremely picky and wants to know "what is in" everything. Noah still doesn't eat meat. Other than that they eat well. However when you mentioned Lucas throwing stuff I felt the need to let you know there really is a huge difference between boys and girls. I see it more and more everyday. All I can say is God bless us moms who are or have raised ornery boys.:)

MIL/MOM said...

As your mom can tell you it does get better but not for a couple of years yet. BTW Joe used to do exactly what Lucas is doing so if it's any consolation you can blame his father LOL

Nancy M. said...

I think it does eventually, but I guess the kids have to be older for that to happen. My son is kinda like Lucas now. The thing he loved last week, or even yesterday, he won't eat today. Then, if it is something he doesn't want, he drops it all on the floor beside his highchair. My kitchen floor is never clean! Sometimes I do eat after he's in bed. I know, bad mommy!

Omaha Mama said...

It does get better! Now that our little guy is 3 and B is going on six, our family meals are slowly becoming more peaceful. We went through the throwing and dumping phase with the boy and it was crazy! It will pass, you'll be having better meals in a couple of years! (Which I'm sure is not a very helpful thought at this point!) :-)

Lovin Mama said...

It will get better. My older two are 10 and 7, but Goldie (2) is our thrower. I never wanted food to become something we had power struggles over with our kids. I also wanted kids that would eat a variety of food. So, we have some simple rules in our house.
1. They have to sit at the table for dinner.
2. They have to put a little bit of each food on their plate.
3. They don't have to eat it.
Even my picky child would get so bored that eventually she would eat what was on her plate. Sometimes my husband and I would make a big deal about how good our food was or excessively praise the child that is eating nicely.
As for toddler, I let them feed themselves. That way they can stop when they are full. When Goldie throws I try to redirect her attention or just take everything away. Hang in there!

Sue said...

I wish I could say yes, but mine aren't older than yours. :) I'm sure it does - the throwing yes - I'd say it's just a stage. So hold your breath and count to 10. The eating? Kayla usually eats great. Alysa is just starting to eat. But that's from her sleep apnea and reflux. So we're still in the behavioral toddler not eating bit too. I feel your pain if it makes you feel any better. Misery does love company. :)

Anonymous said...

it does get better , but then there is the picky eater stage too. Now that seems to go on forever!!! I do make my kids eat at least a tablespoon of stuff they don't like. I read some where that you should try it with kids. Now with doing that my son has learned to like some foods he didn't like before. Tiffany is my best eater she'll try anything. Your Godchild is another story ! the only meat she'll eat is chicken! Now i did get her veggie burger and she ate it. I hope things get better with you!
love ya,
mimi

Libby said...

Girl, I feel your pain! I have a 3year old (well, soon to be 3 year old) and a 1 year old. My 3 year old is pretty good at the eating part..she's just picky with what she eats. My 1 year old still has not mastered the whole *picking up finger foods, putting it in your mouth, and chewing* thing...so we are always feeding him with a spoon. And when we do give him his own spoon, he just uses it to play with the food. Which is fine cause that's how he learns, but it's such a mess. I went through that with my 3 year old, but like you, I am waiting for mealtimes to get better.

much more than a mom said...

I hear at about 13 they get a little better. ;-)

A Captured Reflection said...

I know what you mean. Our son was really particular about what he ate, he seems to have the most super sensitive taste buds ever - hates cheese, chips and anything remotely related to cheese, so was a challenge. Our daughter used to eat anything. Then our son started to expand his choices, bit by bit..and just when that happened, our daughter has been fussier. Times and seasons that's for sure.

chelle said...

There is only one way to learn table manners and that is to be able to eat and learn. It is a tough go, but worth it in the long run.

Lianna said...

I remember very well how one nurse made that exact comment to me as did Joe's co-worker. Mealtime can be quite an exhausting event in our house too. Gabe has good days and bad, but most times if we bargain with him, he gets his just desserts. Literally. He seems to always get his Popsicle or Oreo or whatever is in the dessert category.

Beck said...

Ha! Even now - with a 10, 7 and 4 year old - supper is still SUCH a mixed bag. I find that it's best to just go in with really low expectations and try and roll with it. So that doesn't help, eh?

Melissa said...

OMG, you poor thing...HOWEVER I can somewhat relate! Dillon's ALWAYS throwing his spoons, food...cups & then will laugh at me...SIGH!! Hopefully soon it'll get better for you;)

Ellen said...

This sounds so much like Grace. She's always been a pretty independent little person, so eating was always on her terms. There were times when I thought she survived on air alone. It didn't get any better until she turned 4, but now she's fabulous at the table. If only her littler sister were game.....

Karly said...

{hugs} I am right in the trenches with you. Luckily, my Lucas is still doing pretty well with his eating. But some days I do wonder how long they would both go without eating if I just went on strike!

The Girls' Mommy said...

Katie was a thrower, that's actually gotten better. But the slipping down in your chair attitude? Mine ALL have that. We keep a booster seat under the table and it (and the offender) get strapped into the chair after one warning. Yet, still, I eat my dinner cold :(

Monica @ Monkey Musings said...

Yes, it gets better! I have a wonderful, usually well-mannered almost 12 yr old son and almost 10 yr old daughter who rarely make messes, clean the table, do dishes, empty dishwasher, yada yada. My 4 year old is learning from them and my little guy, John Michael, sounds like your Lucas at this stage. It's like total opposite ends of the spectrum. Sometimes I wonder if it's the Ds or if he's just wired differently. He also doesn't respond to "no" which frustrates me. Hang in there... it does get better, but I'm finding out for myself that some take longer than others to master table manners and eating.

ChupieandJ'smama said...

And I have a seven year old and a four year old and I can honestly say "Not Yet". We fight and argue at dinner over: eating whats on your plate, staying in your seat, sitting properly, using silverware, not kicking each other, keeping food on the table and not the floor, asking to be excused, not talking about gross stuff, using good table manners, etc. And I'm a jack in the box popping up constantly to get things for everyone.
At Lucas' age, J was picky. I had the suction cup bowl that Bailey's Leaf mention, and sometimes it worked but sometimes he could pry it lose and still toss it. Have patience. It's a stage and it will end.

Tricia said...

I hope so!!! Your description of Lucas is Georgia EXACTLY!

Robin said...

Oh yes, it does get better. I had the most picky, finicky eater imaginable. When she was in grade school I got her one of those cafeteria trays because she wouldn't eat food that touched each other!
Today, that girl eats sushi of all things! And all sorts of other stuff that I wouldn't touch!

Chris said...

Feeling the pain here too! Sure hope it gets better...for all of us parents of picky, food throwing, "all done" saying children!

DeAnna said...

My girls have never been picky eaters (thankfully), but dinner time is always so "interesting" around here too. Right now its trying to get them to remain sitting instead of playing, or if we are out, normally they are half way on our chair/lap, I usually end up with food on me from one of them wanting to be as close as possible to us, :) and with 2 girls it becomes a big giggle fest which makes Amelia get really loud ..... oh and it never fails that no matter what we try as soon as I start eating my food Amelia will say she needs to go potty. And although not picky eaters, they are SLOW eaters so we always get all of the above in a very long period of time. I've decided warm food is really just overrated. :)

Izzy 'N Emmy said...

No. lol!

starrlife said...

Yes. I remember those days well though... and I wondered how my Mom made us sit with four of us? Hmmmm...
I was Thinking of you and your family this weekend.

Jill said...

at 4.5 and 6 years old we STILL have issues at dinner.

i would love to know when it gets better... i'm waiting not-so patiently anymore.

farrellx4 said...

What a great post. I mean, because I sooo relate! :)

I think there is an innate difference with boys and girls. Boys are so MESSY and love that kind of stuff. Ugh.

I have stopped trying to sit my family at the dinner table all at once and now just try to do what I can - feed Sam most of the time alone and then try to sit down with Syds and enjoy some kind of minimal mess-meal-time. At least until I can get him through this phase.... I have a feeling it will be a while..

Hang in there!

Ann of the Incredible Gift said...

It gets better.

Not all at once, and not right away, but it does get better.

The improvement generally comes in such little increments that you don't notice unless you are comparing with, for instance, months ago.

I think the biggest improvements for my girls happened after I started the Saturday morning "restaurant" pretends, last paragraph here.

Hang in there.